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Sometimes it’s in the darkest moments, you have the brightest ideas. For me that was quite literally the experience when I found myself at home, in Prahran, trying to find candles and lamps to illuminate the kitchen (in the middle of cooking a late dinner) after yet another energy black out on a stifling hot Melbourne day.
For what it’s worth, I love the heat. That’s one of the reasons I moved here. I love balmy Melbourne nights, they are non-existent in the UK. But what does bother me on a perfect summer’s evening is the irony of blackouts in my Ecostar uPVC double glazed home. You see, if all of my neighbours had double glazed windows and doors, if it was standard here like it is back in the UK, black outs wouldn’t happen. And while getting double glazing fitted in your own home won’t stop a blackout (at least until all of your neighbours embrace it too) it did get my thinking that, I want to spread the word about the energy saving benefits of double glazing in my adopted home country.
As the boiling water cooled around my pasta (which should have been reaching an al dente consistency if it weren’t for the power outage) I was forced to spend some quiet time thinking about why Australians have yet to embrace double glazing that would eliminate excessive air conditioning use and therefore prevent blackouts. As it turns out, 60,000 home owners would have had the same opportunity for quiet reflection on that particular summer night as widespread power cuts hit Victoria. The problem is, not many of those home owners would have been thinking about double glazing.
Here’s why, according to this expat. The main benefit of double glazing is that it keeps your home warm in winter and cool in summer. Let’s think about that from the point of view of Melbournians. When I first thought about setting up our business in Australia I worried about this. I mean do Australians need to worry about keeping warm in winter? I was equal parts pleased (from a business point of view) and disappointed (from a personal point of view, a man educated on Australian culture only by beach scenes in Home & Away) that in Melbourne at least, keeping warm in winter is a challenge. What I soon learned is that Aussies have a ‘harden up’ approach to winter. They seem to want to tough it out – wear jackets inside, get an electric blanket, an extra doona.
In the UK this is unheard of. We don’t rug up inside, we enjoy the benefits of central heating in every room and adequate insulation and double glazing to keep that warmth inside. We don’t have heating going all day, we put it on for a few hours and then switch if off, trusting our double-glazed house to keep that heat in. But here? I’ve seen all sorts. From sitting on energy inefficient portable heaters to the excessive use of hot water bottles.
As for keeping cool in summer, while I’ve admitted that I like heat, I did worry about those 40+ days. Would Australians think less of me when I was struggling through my first sweltering heat wave? It turns out Melbournians struggle as much with that level of heat as this English man. While relieved, I ask myself what are they doing about it? Not everyone has air conditioning, and if they do they don’t often use it as the cost is a huge deterrent. Couple that with the fact that any cool air created by air conditioning escapes out windows and doors and we’re back at square one. And Melbournians hovering around fans and portable air con devices.
So there it is. My inspiration for this blog, decided by candle light. I will go forth and use this medium to spread the word that the ‘harden up’ approach doesn’t have to be your way of dealing with the cold winter months or the sweltering days. Expect expat musings and all important environmental advice on how to make your home energy efficient. But that’s it from me for now. Until next time…
Craig Johnson is the MD of Ecostar Double Glazing and moved to Melbourne to set up the Australian arm of the business in 2011.
“We’re constantly monitoring and researching cutting edge technologies in the glazing industry to develop new products to combat Australia’s extreme heat. All our products undergo rigorous scientific testing to ensure they help Victorians improve the thermo efficiency of their homes, combat extreme heat, and reduce their energy bills.”
One such cutting edge technology is Ecostar Self-Sleaning, Climate Control Glass.
“Ecostar Self-Sleaning, Climate Control Glass windows and doors are made from high performance low-emissivity glass (low-E glass) that uses the latest advancements in thermally insulating glass coating technology to deflect the heat by up to 80%*,” says Johnson.
“That offers Victorian homes unmatched thermal efficiency, protecting homes from the Australian sun’s increasingly harsh rays, reducing the use of air conditioning that is a major contributor to climate change and leads to power blackouts during peak heat periods, and saving residents money on energy bills.”
*Compared to other double glazing options that deflect radiant heat by 52%, and single glazed windows, which offer no heat deflection.